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Study: 9 in 10 mobile apps have been hacked; developers and enterprises are ‘not prepared’

by Doug Drinkwater

August 20 2012

A new report reveals the serious extent of app hacking
A new report reveals the serious extent of app hacking

A damming new study finds that 90% of the Top 100 mobile apps have been hacked, with Android the most susceptible platform.

The ‘State of Security in the App Ecomomy: Mobile Apps’ report comes from security vendor Arxan Technologies and tackles how the prevalence of “cracked” mobile apps can compromise brands and affect revenues.

The report studied 230 top apps -- including the Top 100 Paid apps on Android and iOS -- and found that 92% of iOS apps have been hacked, with this rising to an incredible 100% on the Android platform.

Free apps weren’t immune from attacks either, as Arxan found that 40% of popular free iOS apps had been hacked, with this rising to 80% for apps running Google's operating system.

Researchers found hacking to be prevalent across all mobile apps irrespective of category (including business and productivity), and indicated that hacking presides in a number of forms, from disabling security to unlocking and modifying app features. Hackers also resort to code/IP theft and pushing illegal malware-infested versions.

To counter this, Arxan Technologies says that developers should harden the code against reverse engineering (reproducing the app based on how it is built) and make their apps tamper-proof and self-defending.

"We envision a thriving App Economy with freedom and confidence to innovate and distribute new apps”, said Jukka Alanen, vice president at Arxan and the lead author of the new study.

“However, this potential is being threatened by hackers, and most enterprises, security teams, and app developers are not prepared for these attacks.”

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